Where Else Will You Be Encouraged and Stirred Up?

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In addition to reviewing the once-for-all sacrifice Jesus gave for our atonement, today’s Bible reading includes one of the most compelling arguments for being regularly involved in a local church.

As a pastor, I often hear excuses from people who have no interest in going to church. One of the most popular arguments is that they can attend church online. True, you can watch any number of Bible teachers and preachers online and on TV. Some are better than others.

Honestly, you can get a lot of good Bible teaching online and on TV. But instruction and music aren’t the only reasons we go to church in the first place.


Let’s go back to why we meet as churches to begin with. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us in today’s Bible reading that we shouldn’t neglect meeting together. Why? So that we can “stir up each other to love and good works” and encourage each other. (Hebrews 10:24-25) We all need to be encouraged. We all need to be stirred up to love and good works. All of us.

I don’t care how good the preacher or Bible teacher is. You can’t be stirred up to love and good works and you can’t be encouraged with an online church experience, compared with an in-person church experience.

Besides, when you watch church on TV, you may not be watching a livestream of a real worship service. Christian TV and radio ministries often heavily edit the content of their programs to meet time constraints. Instead of “watching church”, you may be watching a pre-packaged, edited production. I admit, before posting the audio of my sermons online, I would run it through software to remove long pauses and then I remove coughs, sneezes, etc. But otherwise, I very rarely made any other kinds of edits.

Do I believe someone will be denied heaven because they don’t go to church? Of course not! There are times and seasons when it’s nearly impossible to get out of bed on Sunday Morning, much less to get dressed and make it to church. And there are times when you or people around you aren’t well and need to stay home.

But one thing you don’t need to do is to try to make excuses. If you are well — and sometimes when you aren’t well! — you need to be in church on a regular basis. You simply won’t be equipped for the work of your own personal ministry without it. Also, if you aren’t there, your fellow church members won’t benefit from the spiritual gifts that God has given to you to use in your church. So for your benefit and for the benefit of your church, you need to be there regularly.

As I originally typed this, state and county Emergency Management Officials were doing something they’d never done before. They canceled all meetings and activities where there will be lots of people in attendance and in close proximity. This included area churches and school districts. As a consequence of their unprecedented decisions, church leaders had to make difficult decisions in light of the Covid-19 global pandemic. I live in Tarrant County (Fort Worth) Texas. Both Tarrant and Dallas Counties currently had “community spread” cases of Covid-19. In other words, people who had not traveled out of the country and who have not had contact with people who have traveled were testing positive for the virus. I pastor in the next county (Parker County) to the West of Tarrant County. As of when I originally typed this in 2020, no one had canceled mass gatherings in our county. But we had to make decisions in the following days as the virus continued to spread. I asked my readers to pray for us and to pray for people in our community. I asked my readers to pray for God to stop the spread of the virus. This was no time to panic. And this was no time to be calloused to those in our communities with fragile medical conditions.

Thankfully, we are now learning to live with Covid-19 and its variants. Most of us received the vaccines and boosters. Lives were lost before the vaccines became available. Unfortunately, some had deadly reactions to the vaccines. We transitioned from being in a pandemic into living with an endemic. It appears that Covid will not die out.

But God is still good. And God is still on His throne. It’s always a good time to trust Him.

* Today we are reading Hebrews 10.

This devotional was originally published on March 14, 2020.

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